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  #1  
Old 04-03-2013
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Scott's running questions thread.

I've been looking at the wind for the last couple day and right now it's 2. I just bought a boat in Washington and it often had light wind. The only other sailing I've done was in Hawaii and there was always wind if at least 10. 365 days.

So I have a 150, and my boat ha a load of ballast. What is the lightest wind I should o out in and make old headway?

Last edited by northoceanbeach; 04-04-2013 at 07:35 PM. Reason: Thought I could have just one post for all questions
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Old 04-03-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

your profile says you have a ranger 23. In case anyone else is wondering.

Probably wouldn't be interesting without at least consistent 6k winds or higher. At least with steady 6k winds you could patiently trim your sails and still move in a direction.

keep the engine ready to fire up if you sail in a tight area. Otherwise prepare to feel like you're "waiting" for things to change.
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Old 04-03-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

Also, there are lots of currents in the PNW. Assuming your in the Puget Sound somewhere? If you get a 2 - 4 knot wind on the beam while sailing with a 2 knot current, it can feel like your getting somewhere... slowly... but can be relaxing. Turn against the current (or have it turn against you) and you aren't going anywhere (but maybe backwards)
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  #4  
Old 04-03-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

This is a friend's blog post about sailing from Shilshole to Poulsbo in close to zero winds using the currents:
Bob Hall's Blog: Sailing to Poulsbo

His 30' boat is motorless and much heavier (10,000lbs vs 3,400lbs) than yours, to give you context.

I find that we could get the Catalina 25 moving at about just under half the speed of the wind pretty easily (so 1.5 to 2 knots in 4 knots of wind). We've sailed it in 2mph winds and the boat moves along, but it's not too exciting. There are tricks to learn for light air sailing, such as sitting on the leeward side to put shape into the sails when the wind won't do it for you. Also try using the topping lift to lift the boom if your main sail is too flat. Learn how to adjust the jib cars for the same purpose. The Catalina has a new main sail, which helps, but a very heavy genoa, which hurts.

My Pearson doesn't move quite as easily in light airs, but we can get her moving too. Mostly it's harder to force shape into the sails by moving body weight around since the boat weighs 7000lbs instead of 4000lbs.

If you need to get somewhere sometimes you'll just need to motor. Last year I sailed in one direction across the Strait with 15-20knot sustained winds and made great time. In the other direction we had pure glass water and mostly motored.

I'm going sailing on Lake Union this afternoon in very light air, and really looking forward to it. It's not as fun as sailing in 15 knot winds, but it's still a lot of fun. I have a greater sense of accomplishment in making a boat move nicely in light air than I do in sailing the boat in 10kt winds (when everything is easy).

If you have nothing better to do then get out on the water and enjoy it. People pay lots of money to sit outside in the sun on a private island. You can do it anytime you want.
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Old 04-03-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

It really depends on how patient you are, and how well prepared your boat is. My area gets a lot of light wind, so as a racer I became a bit of a light air specialist. I am anal about making sure my bottom is smooth and clean, and my foils are fair. I have a folding prop, and make sure it works properly. For me, it is rare that there is not enough wind to sail. If there is a ripple on the water, then there is plenty of wind. Of course that is in an area where there is little or no chop when there is no wind. If there are waves, then you need a bit more breeze.

The one thing about sailing in light air is that you will almost certainly become a better sailor because every little thing you do in terms of sail and boat trim will have a significant impact on your boatspeed. You learn to pay attention to every detail on the boat, as well as on the waters around you.

My cousin was visiting from out of town, and he really wanted to get out on the water with his son. We went out even though the waters were glassy calm. Even then there was enough breeze aloft ti keep us moving at a couple of knots. We had a wonderful time enjoying the wildlife, and conversation while I tweaked and adjusted the boat from puff to puff. The only negative thing was all the power boats that cfelt the need to cut close across our bow to show us how fast they are, killing all of our hard earned boatspeed with their wake.
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Old 04-03-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

Well

IF you have a steady 2 knot wind you can go UPWIND fairly well as the apparent wind will build to the 4+ knot range

However if you have to go back downwind 2 knots of true wind will pretty much become ZERO apparent wind

We try and avoid days like that BUT if we are out i will just beam reach back and forth in the same area as it tends to be freaking hot around here on days like that
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Last edited by tommays; 04-03-2013 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 04-03-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

It's all about how fast you want to sail. My little C&C will waft along quite happily at 2-3 knots in 3-4 knots of wind. Fine if you aren't fighting a current (rare), or have somewhere to get to. Downwind, well, you'll be drifting at a knot, maybe 2 at best.
You'll probably find that your 150 is too heavy for really light air, I would go with a smaller or lighter sail.
I generally find that the stinkpotters ruin any really light air days here, it's no fun just getting her moving to then get turned around by some douche in a Bayliner cutting across your bow.
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Old 04-04-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
Well

IF you have a steady 2 knot wind you can go UPWIND fairly well as the apparent wind will build to the 4+ knot range

However if you have to go back downwind 2 knots of true wind will pretty much become ZERO apparent wind

We try and avoid days like that BUT if we are out i will just beam reach back and forth in the same area as it tends to be freaking hot around here on days like that
The thing about light wind, is that there is no such thing as running. If you want to get down wind you have to reach, and use your apparent wind and puffs to go deeper when you can. Once you start to get soft, you have to heat back up to keep the boat moving. It definitely helps if you don't care which direction you sail in, because then you just go wherever the wind takes you.

As far as sail inventory goes, if the 150 is too heavy it might not fly very well when it is REALLY light. I have an extremely light staysail we call the "windseeker" AKA the "drifter" that will fly and maintain shape in the softest zephyrs, and allow you to find the wind and get the boat moving, although these days if it is that soft and I'm not racing I don't bother with it! If the sail is to heavy to fly it helps to heel the boat quite a bit to leeward so that the sails will at least hang in a foil shape until you get moving faster and build your apparent.

Racing in light air takes a great deal of concentration. I have come off the water after a light race feeling just as mentally exhausted as if it were blowing 20!
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Last edited by SchockT; 04-04-2013 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 04-04-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

I've come off of light day races way more mentally tired than heavy air. THe heavy air races will make my more physically tired tho!

I would also agree with schock, in that if you truly want to sail in calm winds per say, ie under 3-5 knots, a really light sailcloth jib helps. Ihave a 130 that is made of 3oz nylon spin cloth. THis sail gets me moving when my 150 string will not! If I can not get going with a string styl 155, I could not imagine what would happen with a basic dacron sail in thos conditions........

If out having fun, no big, if racing or trying to get somewhere. better to have another light sail when racing in your bag of goodies per say, or the iron genny if trying to get somewhere, especially if here in the salish sea area.

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Old 04-04-2013
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Re: What is the lightest wind I can sail in?

The forecast for our after work sailing on Lake Union was 3mph. We had a few gusts that were higher (maybe up to 6mph) and a lot of time when it wasn't even 3mph. We still did a couple laps of the lake, I taught the boat's owner the best way that we've figured out to do spinnaker launches, and had a great time with the other 5 or 6 boats that were out there.

As for currents, the best trick is to use them, not to try and sail against them. You live in a great place to practice this. Play with deepzoom.com and look at what the currents are doing near you, then figure out a day trip that lets you take the best advantage of them. You can probably do a lap of Marrowstone Island even in almost still air just by leaving at the right time on Friday.

When you do go north you want to catch the ebb leaving Port Townsend, time it so that slack occurs as you are about midway, and then ride max flood into Cattle Pass. That gives you a 3 knot boost into the San Juans without any extra work. I don't care if the wind is heavy or light, you need to pay attention to the currents.
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